"I'm what the world considers to be a phenomenally successful man. And I've failed much more than I've succeeded. And each time I fail, I get my people together, and I say, "Where are we going?" And it starts to get better." - Calvin Trager
Tuesday, January 23, 2007 Abbie Coburn's Palestine Journal -- Final Installment
Part 8 of Abbie's reflections traveling in the Occupied Territories. As always, published with permission.
Perhaps this email should be called Movement...or maybe, Lack Thereof. It's the buzz everywhere. Restrictions on Palestinians, internationals, cars, animals. And it's only getting worse.
As internationals pass through Jerusalem on their way out of the country everyone is talking of hw bad checkpoints have gotten, how difficult it is to stay longer than 3 months, and how to make sure that at the airport you aren't detained.
Internationals are being denied re-entry all the time. People who have been working here for years are being deported. No agencies are safe. Someone who was meant to travel on birthright unplugged was detained for hours and deported back to the States. It's a gamble coming here. If you get the wrong guard, in the wrong mood, you could be denied from ever returning.
I have carefully mailed back almost everything that has 'palestine' written on it. And yet I am still highly anxious. Everyone is told to get to the airport 4 or 5 hours early, because almost everyone I know has been questioned and detained.
Passing through checkpoints is no easier. Travelling from one town to another is similar to going through airport security in the States. Metal detectors, xray machines, lines of waiting people. Israeli guards who shut down the gates as collective punishment, refusing entry to anyone. I went back to Dheisheh refugee camp a couple days ago. This time I was with two Jewish-Americans who had not been in the West Bank yet. The checkpoint to pass from Jerusalem to Bethlehem can be daunting. It's massive building, reminiscent of an airplane hangar, but with an eerily empty feel. They have doors, gates, walls, turnstiles, booths everywhere, but no signs. We yelled out, but no one responded. We had to wait for a Palestinian to come so that we could follow them through a maze of doors, known to him only because he is forced to do it everyday.
They are building more walls in front of the Apartheid Wall everywhere. When we came back through they had shut down all the turnstiles. An Israeli guard stood on the other side of the fence. Instead of opening the gate in the fence, which is usually open, so that we could enter the checkpoint, he made u walk a mile around a maze of new fences to where tour buses pass through.
Laws restricting further restricting the movement of Palestinians are being carried out everyday. Palestinians can't travel in cars with Israelis or internationals. They are so many different levels of identification one must have - all of them racially discriminatory. Keeping them prisoners on their own land.
I worry about coming back. I worry about not being allowed back because they will know I am coming to the West Bank. I worry that I won't even be able to cross through the Wall anymore. Talk now is that Israel wants to turn the West Bank into Gaza, where it is nearly impossible for internationals to enter. And where they will wall the Palestinians away as they take their aggression out on one another.
It's not going to get any easier any time soon. Consider yourself forewarned.
I'm off tonight, unless I'm detained at the airport. You haven't heard the last of me. But, maybe I'll take a break for a short time. And then I'll be back in your inbox. Hope everyone's well. Thanks for reading. Let's all keep talking about how to make things better. More than talk - let's act. Do something. Let me now what you're doing to bring an end to this Apartheid. And I'll spread the word. Justice sure ain't gonna come on it's own.
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"Christ's example is being
demeaned by the church if they ignore the new leprosy,
which is AIDS. The church is the sleeping giant here.
If it wakes up to what's really going on in the rest
of the world, it has a real role to play. If it doesn't,
it will be irrelevant."